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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jun 2, 2011

Belarus coach plays down expectations

Belarus coach Bernd Stange has played down his side's chance of doing a Euro 2012 qualifying double over France ahead of the teams' meeting in Minsk.

Stange's men pulled off a shock 1-0 win over Les Bleus at the Stade de France last September but Laurent Blanc's side responded well and head into the match top of Group D by four points from their hosts and Albania.

Despite their stunning win in Paris, Stange sought to lower the expectations of the home fans as Belarus will be without eight first-team regulars.

''This time we have too many problems with the squad,'' he said. ''However, we are happy to play another home game and have to be ready to produce another miracle.''

Alexander Hleb, Vitali Kutuzov, Sergei Krivets, Vitali Rodionov and Anton Amelchenko miss out through injury, while Dmitri Molosh, Alexander Kulchiy and Sergei Kornilenko are suspended.

Sergei Chernik and Vitali Trubilo have been handed their first call-ups with Andrei Voronkov also drafted in.

Arsenal midfielder Samir Nasri struggled for fitness in the Premier League run-in but has travelled to Minsk as part of a strong-looking squad including defensive duo Patrice Evra and Eric Abidal - fresh from their involvement in last weekend's Champions League final for Manchester United and Barcelona, respectively - and Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery, who has not had a competitive game for three weeks.

Mamadou Sakho has been tipped for a starting spot in the absence of the injured Philippe Mexes, and the Paris St Germain defender would relish the opportunity.

''I'm always so happy and pleased to be selected,'' he said. ''Training is going very well. There's a good atmosphere. I ask many questions of myself and I try to give my maximum.''

On the return of Abidal just two and a half months after undergoing surgery on a liver tumour, Sakho said: ''He's happy to be here, kind, always smiling. Abidal has remained the same.''

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